Thursday, March 23, 2000

Sewage plant site top priority

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT WRIGHT — Cost is one of the least important criteria in building a new waste treatment plant in Campbell County, according to a consensus of the 12 members of a site evaluation committee formed by Sanitation District No.1.

        In the course of a two-hour meeting Wednesday, the second for the group, an attempt was made to prioritize the criteria the committee will use in selecting a site that will be recommended to the district's board for a final decision.

        Sanitation District executive director Jeff Eger asked members of the group if they felt any of the criteria which has been discussed had less importance in site selection.

        “I would say cost,” said county resident and former Dayton Public Schools superintendent Jack Moreland. “The cost of the project will be amortized over many years. I think county residents are going to be much more concerned with where the plant will be built and what effect it will have on them.”

        As part of a 20-year plan, the Sanitation District is planning new waste treatment facilities in Boone and Campbell counties to handle the anticipated residential and commercial growth. Although work on the Boone County plant is anticipated in the near future, the Campbell County facility could be as much as 10 years away.

        The committee members set forth four general site criteria — physical/engineering, social, economic and environmental. Each of the categories was given nearly equal consid ering, although all the members give some slight preference to the physical/engineering and social aspects, particularly the health issue.

        “We know what the problems are relating to the current facility (in Alexandria),” said Camp Springs resident Betty Daniel. “We have to do what is necessary for the health of county residents.”

        The Alexandria plant regularly overflows when there is heavy rain, sending sometimes millions of gallons of untreated or partially treated waste water into nearby streams. The southern end of the county also has a problem with overburdened and leaking septic systems.

        Mr. Moreland emphasized that “We have to explain, up front, what the need is for this plant. We can't assume that everyone in the county knows what the problems are.”

        Tree farmer and former National Parks officer Don Girton of Alexandria said he felt the committee needed to see a list of possible sites before determining all the criteria.

        “We need to know which sites are most viable and then develop and apply the criteria,” he said. He did not, however, oppose the continuing discussion on site criteria.

        The Sanitation District engineering staff has determined that a 15 acre site is needed for the plant, while the actual facility will cover about two acres.

        “We want to be at least 200 feet from any residence or building, and we want a natural buffer around the site,” engineer Rich Harrison said. “The natural buffer zone is a very important criterion.”

        Camp Springs resident Don Wiedemann, the retired executive director of the Home Builders Association of Northern Kentucky, agreed that the buffer was a key factor in site selection.

        “If the plant is more acceptable to the public, it will be more acceptable to public officials,” he said. “A natural buffer around the plant will make a big difference to the public.”

        The committee will meet again next Thursday when it will consider how best to explain to the public the process of site selection and plant construction.

        “We hope to be able to look at several possible sites at another meeting, but we haven't set a date for that yet,” Mr. Eger said.


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